He was brilliant, a charmer, and one of London's more colourful barristers. She was exotic, outspoken and flying high as a pioneering black female judge. Their friends wished Anthony Arlidge and Constance Briscoe well, but in gossipy legal circles the question was asked: how could it not all go wrong?
When the news that it had done broke last week, both sides had their cases prepared. Judge Briscoe claimed that the 75-year-old silvery-haired QC with whom she had lived for 12 years was "bonkers".
Confirming that he had left the judge for a 25-year-old junior barrister called Heather Lockwood, Mr Arlidge said: "We are living together. The relationship is going very well."
Further complicating matters was the disclosure that Mr Arlidge remains married to Enid, the wife he broke up with almost 30 years ago, and there are hints that this lingering attachment may be the key to the whole awkward situation.
Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Judge Briscoe, 55, claimed that Mr Arlidge's defection came after she urged him finally to seek a divorce: "I did say to him, 'You've got to sort your affairs out. You've been separated for god knows how long, you need to get divorced."'
Instead of getting divorced, he went off with "this young lady".
Constance Briscoe, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, is no stranger to heartbreak. Or to controversy.
Six years ago she published a bestselling memoir, Ugly, in which she detailed the abuse she allegedly suffered as a child. The book records how her mother, Carmen, neglected her, beat her for wetting the bed, taunted her about her looks and once refused to buy her school photograph saying: "You is too ugly."
Carmen, supported by some of her other six children, denounced the story as a pack of lies and sued for libel. A High Court jury sided with the author.
Judge Briscoe says she met Mr Arlidge "looking a bit down" in the cafe at the Old Bailey in 2000, where they were appearing in separate trials. She gave him blue "power beads" to improve his mood, and he responded. "He knew I was a very keen gardener so he invited me to his house to look at his herbaceous borders, but I didn't know a great deal about him at that time so I did a bit of research," she said.
"I knew about the intellect, I knew about the cases, I knew about the brain?... but I didn't know a lot about what he was about, so I did some research, rang up some of my friends and they all said the same thing - keep away from him.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald